In January 2012, one of EastEnders’ longest-serving and best-loved characters breathed her last when Pat Butcher succumbed to cancer. Her departure from the show gave actress Pam St Clement time to reflect, not only on almost 26 years playing a role that she loved, but also on her whole life.
Pam’s mother died when she was a baby, leaving her with a father whose life didn’t really have space for a child. What followed was an itinerant childhood, with various stepmothers and foster families, before an advertisement in The Lady took 11-year-old Pamela to the farm in Devon that was to become her true home, with the ‘aunts’ who became her surrogate parents. Time on the farm at Dartmoor, where she discovered her love of animals, alternated with life at The Warren boarding school in West Sussex, where she discovered her passion for acting.
On leaving school, Pam was unsure of what direction to take but gradually realised that acting was what she wanted to do with her life. So, in 1966, Pam took up a place at drama school. Pam settled in London and worked on stage and television throughout the sixties and seventies, before her first appearance on EastEnders in 1986 and the offer of a permanent role a few months later.
This memoir is far more than simply an actor’s tale. Quite apart from her fascinating and unique childhood, Pam also recalls her involvement in the women’s movement of the 1970s, her lifelong love of animals and the worries about her weight that have dogged her since her teenage years. It is also a tribute to Pat Butcher, for whom Pam retains a huge affection.
This incredibly warm memoir reveals the woman behind the popular EastEnders’ character, a woman who, apart perhaps from her earrings, couldn’t be more different from Pat.